FAU Graduate Puts His Future in Hands of His Own Imagination

David Parshenkov is developing a mobile application that utilizes dynamic augmented reality, technology that pulls graphics out of a phone or computer display and integrates them into real world environments.

Earlier this year, Parshenkov won both the FAU Business Plan Competition and the Tech Runway Launch Competition, grabbing $35,0000 in prize money for a picture-and-video messaging platform called Faceplay. He and his co-developers wanted to make sharing videos between friends on their phones more like in-person interaction, with the viewers front-facing camera recording their facial expressions and reactions to what they’re watching.


By james-hellegaard | 12/21/2016

Halfway through his college career, David Parshenkov decided to put his future in the hands of his own imagination. Well on his way to achieving his dreams developing a mobile application that utilizes dynamic augmented reality, the 23 year old graduated from Florida Atlantic University in December with a bachelor’s degree in Business Administration and Marketing.

This new technology pulls graphics out of your phone or computer display and integrates them into real world environments. Parshenkov’s team includes Ahmed Fathi, a student at Palm Beach State College; Sean Bakko, a student at Wayne State University in Detroit; Jordon Feldman, an FAU alumnus; and his cousin Danny Bakhtiyarov, who is transferring to FAU from PBSC next fall. Together they are developing an application they’ve tentatively called Magic Touch. He calls it a “frictionless” video creation platform, meaning the user “doesn’t have to think about it, things will just work.”

They’ve developed algorithms for Magic Touch that employ machine learning, artificial intelligence, and computer vision. The user can record a video or take a picture, save it and share via text message, Facebook and the like. Using voice commands and motion gestures, the user enables their phone’s camera to record video while simultaneously incorporating graphics that could take the shape of a fireball or a Twitter feed or other dynamic content.

“It understands all these different motions and gestures,” Parshenkov said. “I could clap my hand, wave it over my head and text could show up over my head, or flowers, or whatever you can create. It’s all done through motion gestures and movement technology.”

Just a couple of years ago, Parshenkov’s focus was elsewhere, creating content that was drawing a growing following on Vine, an app of looping six-second videos, which was hugely popular at the time.  It was at that point that he realized he could go one of two routes: continue to create more and better videos for that app or try to come up with the next big thing. He decided on the latter and hasn’t looked back.

Earlier this year, Parshenkov won both the FAU Business Plan Competition and the Tech Runway Launch Competition, grabbing $35,0000 in prize money for a picture-and-video messaging platform called Faceplay. He and his co-developers wanted to make sharing videos between friends on their phones more like in-person interaction, with the viewers front-facing camera recording their facial expressions and reactions to what they’re watching.  

They were about 98 percent done with that application when they decided to pivot their efforts toward what is now the Magic Touch platform. While working to complete that application, they’re also talking with Microsoft about an artificial intelligence computer vision learning application, as well as with Detroit People Mover about contract work on other projects.

Parshenkov credits much of his success to his parents, both immigrants from Russia, for passing on their hard work ethic. He also applauds the education and mentorship he received at FAU, particularly from Jeanne McConnell, an instructor who taught him in the entrepreneurship and advanced business strategies courses in the College of Business. McConnell said she’s delighted to see him finish his degree. They spent time talking about tech heroes who didn’t finish college and Parshenkov “chose to persevere.” 

“In doing that, I saw him not only take advantage of his course work but successfully engage with other students, academics and important members of the community including those made available through the Business Plan Competition, The Adams Center and Tech Runway,” she said. “University life has much to offer and David took advantage of many critical aspects. I am proud to have been part of his journey.”

Parshenkov said his time at FAU has been “amazing.” Over these last four years, he has come to believe everything happens for a reason.

“Everything I have been able to accomplish, the people I have met, none of that would have been possible if I wasn’t at FAU at this point in time, as if this is all part of a bigger story and I’m just along for the ride,” he said. “One day, as cliché as it may sound, I hope to make a huge impact on life and earth, for the better of course.”

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